LONDON – It was just your typical Saturday night of shopping at the Walmart in London, Ohio this past weekend. And then, out of nowhere, Santa arrived in a gigantic highly-illuminated neon-adorned semi truck.
It was suspected by many that the truck was from the North Pole and full of Christmas toys and presents for all the good little boys and girls this year.
Customers were taken by surprise and kids were rushing over to Santa’s Semi to visit and get a free photo taken with him. Santa’s helper would actually print the photos right on the spot and give them to the kids. It was an unexpected surprise and the highlight of the evening for many.
According to the Coca-Cola representative traveling with the caravan, the iconic truck is part of a whole fleet of trucks traveling around America and the world this Christmas season. In fact these Santa Semis have been spreading holiday cheer for over the past 20 years. This particular semi had just come from Lincoln, Nebraska and was headed to North Carolina next. London is located near Interstate 70 and is convenient for such trans-American stops.
According to the Coca-Cola rep, the highly decorated and illuminated vehicles have become global advertising icons and symbols of holiday happiness since first hitting the airwaves nearly two decades ago in a series of TV commercials that aired in over 100 countries.
The Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks are a fleet of vehicles created in 1995 by the ad agency W.B. Doner for a seasonal Coca-Cola campaign. If you are old enough you may actually remember these Coca-Cola commercials where an aerial shot depicts an endless fleet of these illuminated trucks driving in a caravan across the countryside.
These trucks were made even more fascinating by special effects from the renowned company “Industrial Light and Magic.” This company has worked on blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Forrest Gump.
The trucks are driven through communities all around the world, spreading the holiday spirit all throughout the Christmas season. A total of 6 Christmas semi-trucks are driven through the United States each Christmas season.
If you happen to see one of these trucks making their way across a snowy landscape and lighting up the countryside, consider yourself lucky!
Each 40-foot, 2-ton “light brite” on wheels features more than 30,000 bulbs. Images of the Coca‑Cola Santa are by artist Haddon Sundblom – which decorate the sides of the trucks.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.